“MHA monitoring report 2018-19”

– in the Scottish Parliament on 30th October 2019.

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Photo of Alex Cole-Hamilton Alex Cole-Hamilton Liberal Democrat

1. To ask the Scottish Government what its response is to the findings of the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland publication, “MHA monitoring report 2018-19”. (S5O-03669)

Photo of Jeane Freeman Jeane Freeman Scottish National Party

We are carefully considering the commission’s findings, which will inform the independent review of mental health legislation that we announced earlier this year. The review is chaired by John Scott QC and will focus, in part, on compulsion. It is currently considering how best to seek and evaluate evidence about the way persons who are subject to compulsion under the Mental Health Act 1983 currently receive care and treatment. That includes issues such as how the application of compulsion has developed since the 1983 act came into force. The review will aim to produce an interim report in May 2020. Work will continue with stakeholders to ensure that compulsory treatment orders are used correctly and continue to promote patients’ rights.

Photo of Alex Cole-Hamilton Alex Cole-Hamilton Liberal Democrat

The report shows that since 2009, there has been a 122 per cent increase in short-term detentions among women under the age of 25. The number of times that people have needed compulsory mental health treatment in Scotland has reached a record high—in the past year alone, there have been more than 6,000 detentions under the 1983 act.

Photo of Alex Cole-Hamilton Alex Cole-Hamilton Liberal Democrat

Those shocking statistics show that people are not getting help fast enough, so their needs are getting more acute. What is the cabinet secretary doing to reduce mental health treatment waiting times? When does she expect the last of the 800 key workers in general practice surgeries to be deployed?

Photo of Jeane Freeman Jeane Freeman Scottish National Party

There are many reasons why there can be a rise in the number of short-term orders. Rates of detention have complex causes, which is why it is important that we look at the findings of the report and that the review undertakes the work that I have outlined.

Mr Alex Cole-Hamilton is well aware of the number of actions that we are taking to improve mental health waiting times and services, so I shall not rehearse those again. We have already published information on our progress in relation to the 800 additional mental health workers who will be in place in this parliamentary session. I am happy to refresh his memory on that in writing, if he wishes.

Photo of Monica Lennon Monica Lennon Labour

Does the cabinet secretary agree that the sharp increase in the number of teenagers being the subject of forced detention is worrying and can she advise how many specialist national health service mental health beds are available for children and young people in Scotland?

Photo of Jeane Freeman Jeane Freeman Scottish National Party

I agree with Monica Lennon that that number is a concern and it needs to be looked at in detail to find out why that might be the case. On the specific question about the number of beds, I do not have that information with me but I am happy to send it to Ms Lennon immediately after portfolio question time.

Photo of Annie Wells Annie Wells Conservative

Significantly, the report highlights that rates of emergency detention vary considerably across Scotland, with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde having the highest rate at 84 per 100,000 of the population. When it comes to compulsory treatment orders, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has had a higher rate than the whole of Scotland for the past 10 years. What action will the cabinet secretary take to address the stark differences across the country?

Photo of Jeane Freeman Jeane Freeman Scottish National Party

As Annie Wells knows, I am always concerned about variation in the delivery of our health services and in outcomes across a whole range of issues. I want to understand why there is that variation. That will be part of how we consider the report’s recommendations and part of the work that Mr Scott is undertaking in our review. As progress is made on that, we will ensure that members are advised.